The Mystique behind Mystique
First of all, I will absolutely not apologize for that pun in the title, so suck it up. Now that we’ve set that aside, I want to take this opportunity to write about one of Marvel’s most recognizable characters, Raven Darkholme. Personally, I find it amusing that Marvel’s very own femme fatale with the blue skin is a decade or so younger than her other mutant counterparts in the main universe of the House of Ideas. She’s just become so synonymous with the X-Men franchise that at the beginning, I thought that she was initially created by Stan lee and Jack Kirby along with Xavier’s gifted child soldiers. But, as time breeds experience, I found out not long after that first, Mystique’s actually a character that was created sometime in the 70s and second, that she didn’t even appear first in an X-Men book. Additionally, Raven Darkholme is one of those properties whose first appearance is stretched out, which in the end usually become a heavily debated subject by those sweaty, Mountain Dew-guzzling, opportunistic nerds. But enough about what I think of those bozos; let’s talk a little about Mystique’s first appearance.
The thing is, the first appearance of Raven Darkholme/Mystique can be traced to two issues of the Ms. Marvel series. I’m talking about the Carol Danvers Ms. Marvel – you know, before everyone got all hyped with her taking on the mantle of Capt. Marvel in today’s Earth-616 –, not the Kamala Khan version of the character, greenhorn. To be exact, it was in 1978, with the release of Ms. Marvel #16, that the supreme shape-shifter of Marvel first appeared. But, as I said, with enterprising nerds being the dregs they are, it’s also become a kind of norm to accept Ms. Marvel #18 to be her “first appearance.” Yeah, yeah, they’ll go on to say that “#18 is her first full appearance! It’s different” which is like saying Diet Coke is not Coke. Dumbasses.
So, what makes Mystique a character that has a more than phenomenal presence, so much so that the property can carry the franchise by herself? Well, it’s all about versatility, which is perfectly right for a character that can change its appearance at will. Building on that, I would even go so far as to say that Mystique is one of the earliest characters (at least that I know of) in mainstream superhero comics that did not simply rely on a shtick and was immediately given her due in terms of character development. Yes, Raven Darkholme started off as a villain, but soon after that was given enough of a back story that makes her one of the most sympathetic and potentcharacters out there. As proof, you have to know that first, there’s the absentee mother angle that honestly has not been utilized as much as it should these days; second, Mystique’s played both the role of anti-hero to full-on good guy throughout the years; and third, the whole slow aging trope she has, which is not unlike Logan’s, provides Marvel with a whole lot of stories they can do with her.